If you haven’t binge watched the 80’s nostalgia fest that is Stranger Things 3 by now, you probably don’t really care about the successful Netflix series. I will be divulging spoilers galore as I continue…so stop right now if you haven’t watched Stranger Things 3 and care to.
Cozy up on the couch and summon the streaming. This post will be waiting here for you when you’re done.
What’s so compelling about this sci-fi series? Why are so many folks talking about the recent release of Stranger Things 3? Keeping in step with the 80’s feel-good vibe (think The Goonies, E.T., The NeverEnding Story), Stranger Things 3 showcases a band of misfit kids taking on the world’s problems with minimal parental supervision. It’s a syrupy sweet story about the power of working together to overcome slimy, zombie-bugs from The Upside Down.
One problem…could untrained tweens really stop a monster invasion?
Deceptive Themes in Stranger Things 3
Underestimating Evil and Overestimating Our Abilities
In the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, evil is one laser beam blast away. Random Russians are intent on ripping a hole in the galaxy and inviting a host of beasties from another dimension upon the townspeople. Why? почему бы и нет? It doesn’t really matter, we just need some monsters to fight!
In the face of hissing spider demons, our heroes fail to recognize how totally overwhelmed and over-matched they are. The crew is in denial about their ability to combat this evil. Playing Dungeons and Dragons in your basement doesn’t prepare you for a battle with dragons.
Instead of running for the hills, the gang clings to the fantasy that they can send evil back to the pit with a little bit of elbow grease, help from each other, and amateur pyrotechnics.
In this fairy tale, it works. It’s actually the point. The kids shoot some bottle rockets, the parents turn off the laser beam to shut the demon door, and sweet victory is secured. Rejoicing ensues.
The moral of Stranger Things 3 is that human love and ingenuity can vanquish evil if we simply band together – which is really good news because there are no reliable saviors to be found.
In the past two seasons, Eleven’s been the hero. Wielding telekinetic powers to dismantle Demogorgans and the like, El has saved everyone’s bacon on multiple occasions. In season 3, Eleven’s superpowers are on the fritz, so the gang will have to chip in if they want to survive this bout with evil.
The climatic end scene comes to mind when the all the kids are trapped in the mall and El’s abilities are totally gone (GASP! I warned you…spoilers!) Mike, Lucas, Nancy, Max, and Jonathan resort to weaponizing fireworks. It’s laughable, shooting a bottle rocket at Godzilla ain’t going to get the job done. If anything, these attempts would provoke the beast, reveal your hiding spot, and lead to your crunchy demise.
If we told the story with honesty, everybody dies. When there is no hero, like a fully-powered Eleven, the villain wins. The end.
Netflix didn’t like my idea about everybody dying so they only killed Billy Hargrove. He was a jerk anyway, so minimal tears were shed. Since everybody managed to survive, Season 4 is still on the table. How convenient.
Snapping Back to Reality
Creative differences aside, let’s look at some biblical truth.
We are Sheep
We like to maintain a self-image of battle-tested warrior, but in reality we are sheep. Fluffy. Defenseless. Sheep. At least that’s one of the ways Jesus describes His followers.
What would happen if a sheep fought a wolf? If you had to bet, would you put your money on the sheep or the wolf? I can’t imagine an outcome where the sheep wins. It’s exactly the reason a shepherd is needed. Jesus is making a point that we are totally over-matched by sin and the devil.
Romans 8:36 (NIV)
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
In our vulnerable condition, we still have comfort. It’s Jesus Christ. Faith in Him saves us. In this world we will face persecution, but eternally we are saved. Through the work of the cross we enjoy relationship with our Shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
It’s a tempting lie; our flesh likes the idea that our puny abilities are enough to overcome every problem we encounter. This isn’t Hawkins. We need a Savior. Take comfort that you aren’t alone to face your tormentors when your faith is in Christ. God is with you. Go in peace.